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Types of Scaffolding Accident Injuries in NYC

Understanding the causes, risks, and legal implications

New York City experiences a high number of scaffolding accidents due to its dense population and abundance of tall buildings. These accidents, whether due to falls from scaffolding or scaffolding collapses, often result in severe injuries or fatalities.

In one study, researchers found that over 60% of scaffolding falls lead to serious injuries or death. Suffering such an accident at work can result in months or even years of medical treatment and physical therapy, which can be financially draining. Being unable to work during recovery only adds to financial struggles.

Victims of scaffolding accidents in New York City have options to protect their health and legal right to financial compensation. That’s why it's important for injured employees and their families to consult with an experienced New York scaffolding injury lawyer with extensive experience in workers' compensation and injury cases right away. Understanding the common types of injuries caused by these scaffolding accidents is essential in the pursuit of justice and rightful compensation.

The extreme risk of scaffolding accidents

Scaffolding accidents in the workplace can have devastating consequences for workers, with an average of 60 fatalities and approximately 4,500 injuries reported each year nationwide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Most of these accidents happen on construction sites and building renovation projects. Most injuries are the result of a worker falling off scaffolding, getting struck by something that fell from scaffolding, or an equipment malfunction.

The risk of such accidents is particularly high for laborers, carpenters, masons, roofers, electricians, painters, plumbers, pipefitters, ironworkers, drywall hangers, sheet metal installers, and forklift operators.

In New York, the "Scaffold Law" mandates safety procedures and equipment to prevent falls at construction sites. At the federal level, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations have protected workers using scaffolding since the 1970s. Yet, falls from scaffolding continue to account for a significant percentage of work injuries. Proper training on how to use safety gear, such as harnesses, ropes, hoists, netting, and guard rails, should be provided to help prevent such accidents.

Common scaffolding injuries

Nearly any type of injury can result from a scaffolding accident, but some are more likely to occur than others. Among the body parts most frequently injured in scaffolding accidents are the skull, brain, head, upper limbs, back, spine, foot, and internal organs. Common scaffolding accident injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are severe head injuries resulting from a sudden impact or jolt to the head. TBIs can occur in scaffolding accidents when a worker falls from height or is hit on the head by a falling object. TBIs include concussions, contusions, and more severe injuries such as diffuse axonal injuries or intracranial hemorrhages.
  • Broken bones. Bone fractures often result when a worker falls from a scaffold or the structure collapses. Damage to bones may be anything from a minor hairline fracture to a more severe compound fracture. The most vulnerable bones in this type of accident are the skull and vertebrae, as well as bones in the extremities, such as arms, legs, wrists, and ankles.
  • Soft tissue injuries. Also known as musculoskeletal injuries, damage to the body's muscles, ligaments, or tendons can be caused by sudden impacts or falls, resulting in various types of injuries such as sprains, strains, or tears. The most vulnerable soft tissues in scaffolding accidents are in the back, neck, shoulder, and knee.
  • Spinal cord injuries (SCI). Spinal injuries involve damage to the spinal cord, which carries messages from the brain to the rest of the body. They can be caused by falls from heights or scaffold collapses. The neck (cervical spine) and lower back (lumbar spine) are particularly susceptible to injury in scaffolding accidents. Depending on the location and extent of the damage, spinal injuries can cause partial or total paralysis.
  • Internal organ damage. Various types of internal injuries are possible in a scaffolding accident, including internal bleeding and punctured organs. Some of the organs most likely to be damaged are the liver, spleen, kidneys, and lungs.

Liability for scaffolding accidents in New York City

When accidents happen and workers are injured, New York’s workers’ compensation program is available. With few exceptions, all workers qualify for workers’ comp, regardless of fault for the accident. This system pays for reasonable and necessary medical care, two-thirds of lost income, and additional benefits for certain permanent, disabling injuries. Workers’ compensation also pays death benefits for families of victims of fatal work accidents.

In addition, workers injured in scaffolding accidents and other gravity-related incidents on construction sites can pursue liability claims under Labor Law 240, the “Scaffold Law.” Labor Law 240 imposes absolute, non-delegable liability on property owners and general contractors (except owners of one- and two-family homes who do not direct the work). A Labor Law 240 claim may allow you to pursue compensation for costs not covered by workers’ compensation, such as excess wage loss and pain and suffering.

Depending on the circumstances, there may be other liable parties for a scaffolding accident as well, such as a manufacturer of defective equipment. An experienced construction accident lawyer can investigate and identify all potentially liable parties. A law firm with extensive resources can pursue multiple types of claims simultaneously while you focus on healing and rebuilding your life.

Contact an NYC scaffolding accident attorney today

If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a scaffolding accident in New York City, you probably have more questions than this article can answer. Get legal advice you can trust. Contact Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP today. Our law firm has been fighting to protect New York workers’ rights for more than 90 years. We have the resources, experience, and skills to get results. Contact us for an explanation of your rights and options during a free case evaluation.

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